We have the day off today and I'm sitting in a laundromat waiting for my clothes to dry. I was very proud of myself because I separated my darks and lights and ran 2 washes: a hot and cold one. I left to run a couple of errands, and when I got back I discovered that some old todger had accidentally ran my cold wash a second time through a hot cycle. There's no point in even trying. Next time it's all going in one load.
Anyway, enough with the life lessons. Last week I touched on my touring regimen and adapting my show to be flexible so I can play in different environments. I often give people a breakdown of my set up at shows, and it helps give everyone an idea of what I'm actually doing on stage. So next week, I'm launching the first in a series of gear guides on my YouTube Channel that explores my live set up in depth. Like the breakdowns I give at shows, my goal with this series is to help you understand what I'm doing on stage. I also want to give any musicians out there a sense of what technology's available and ideas about how your can improve your live rig. I'm also looking for feedback on how I can improve my set up.
As a preface to this series, this week I'm going to give you a quick rundown of what it's in my rig. I put up a quick video that shows you all the equipment, and you'll find a list of everything I'm using below that.
1. Fender Telecaster
This Mexican made beauty was passed down to me from a good friend, Jacob Halpern (who actually did the graphic design for some singles I've put out), and it's kept me company for a good 7 years now. I really like it because it has a humbucker pick up in the neck that fattens up the tone compared to a regular single coil.
2. The Rack
Behringer XR18 mixer: This the main interface/mixer I use. I run all my instruments through the block in the rack and my I-Pad contains the mixer interface. This allows me to be mobile in a room during soundcheck and mix the various aspects of my show. It also operates as an interface that plugs into my laptop via USB so I can send any digital instruments/backing tracks.
Shure Wireless Mic Receiver: Receives the signal from my shure wireless mic and is routed into a TC Helicon Mic Mechanic effects pedal (Red pedal in my Control Case) and back into the Behringer mixer.
Audio Technica M3 Wireless In Ear Monitor System: I can create a separate headphone mix of everything running through the Behringer Mixer and send it to an Auxilary output. This output is then sent to this Transmitter unit and broadcast to my In Ear monitor receiver (as seen in my control case).
Furman Power Conditioner: Everything in the rack plugs into this, and I plug this into power at the venue. The power conditioner helps prevent against power surges that might damage my equipment in sketchy power situations.
SKB 6RW Roto Rack: Everything is racked into this case. It’s easy to carry and has an extendable handle and wheels so it rolls along like a luggage case.
3. Control Case
Laptop: I set up my stand and lay it in every night. This runs Ableton, which is the secondary brain of the show (myself being the primary), and I’ll be hilighting my Ableton workflow in my tutorial next week.
I-Pad: This is where the mixer interface for the Behringer lives. It’s mobile, but I leave it set up here during the show for any on the fly adjustments in the Monitor mixes (or FOH if the guy is doing a crappy job... or non existent).
DMXIS: A DMX to USB converter. Think of it as the input of a lighting board that lives in your computer as a plug in.
Donner DMX Wireless Transmitter: Plugged into the DMXIS to transmit the signals from the board (plug in) to all the lights in our show.
TC Helicon Mic Mechanic Pedal: As mentioned before. I run my microphone signal from the wireless mic receiver into this and out to the Behringer mixer. I can add and control different reverb and delays on this, and typically operate it with my hand. It has some pitch correction and tone capabilities which are great when used subtlely.
USB Hub/Power Strip: Taped into the sides, the powered USB hub takes all my USB inputs (Behringer, Launchpad, DMXIS, USB MIDI Switch, and USB to MIDI Cable) and sends it to my computer. The power strip allows me to just leave everything plugged in so I only have to deal with one plug every night.
4. Novation Launchpad
Used to start and stop tracks in Ableton and as a live instrument to trigger samples.
5. Logidy UMI3 USB MIDI Switch:
At this point, you may have figured out that I don’t use a guitar amp. I run it into the Behringer mixer and send the signal to Ableton via the interface. I then use the Guitar Rig Pro modeling amp plug-in in Ableton to create my guitar tones and send the signal to FOH. Anyway, this USB midi switch is used to control the looper plug-in on the guitar channel so I can create loops. Again, I operate this with my hands instead of my feet.
My very first synthesizer. This small and compact keyboard harnesses a lot of power when it comes to creating sound and tone. I make use of the arpeggiator on it a lot since it’s slaved to Ableton’s tempo via the USB to MIDI cord.
7. Nord Lead II
My second synthesizer. The layout of the keyboard allowed me to learn so much more about subtractive synthesis and get out of just using pre-sets on the microkorg. It has some great fat lead and atmospheric pad sounds that I use in the show.
8. Shure Wireless BLX Mic
My main vocal microphone that transmits the signal to the wireless receiver in my rack.
9. E-MU MIDI Keyboard
Set up to do some additional sounds from various synth instruments in Ableton, like the analog instrument.
So there you have it. An in depth overview of my set up. Stay tuned next week for a deeper dive into what I’m doing in Ableton Live during my show, and feel free to comment or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or feedback!